‘A costly mistake’: Andrew Lloyd Webber booed as Cinderella closes in West End

A letter from Andrew Lloyd Webber, read on stage at the closing night of Cinderella, suggested that opening his new musical during the pandemic “might have been a costly mistake”.

The musical finished its run at the Gillian Lynne theatre in London on Sunday after heavy criticism for the way in which some of its workforce had learned of its closure on social media. Boos could be heard in the audience when Lord Lloyd-Webber’s letter was read out by the show’s director, Laurence Connor. In the letter, the composer praised a “fabulous cast, crew and musicians” and “the superb creative team” and repeated his previous assertion that he had “kept the government’s feet to the flame” during the Covid crisis in which the theatre industry weathered shutdowns, restricted capacities and severe financial difficulties.

The letter continued: “I keep thinking, if only we had opened three months later we wouldn’t have had to postpone our opening twice because of Covid. If only we hadn’t had to close for a month over Christmas and New Year, once again thanks to Covid. And if only we had had a crumb of help from [the government’s culture recovery fund], I promise you we would have been here for a very long while to come.”

Towards the end, Lloyd Webber’s letter read: “It might have been a costly mistake, but I am proud that we did [it] and proud of everyone who supported me.” After significant criticism at the suggestion the show was a “costly mistake”, a spokesperson from the composer’s Really Useful Group said that the phrase was “never intended to relate to the production itself, more the myriad of challenges which the production has faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which the full text of the letter makes clear”. On Monday afternoon the composer released a statement saying “I am very sorry if my words have been misunderstood” and adding that he thanked everyone involved in his “beloved” production for all they had done.

In a post on Instagram, Cinderella’s star Carrie Hope Fletcher said that over her three years on the project, from the first workshop to the final show, there had been “many highs and lows but overall I’m glad to have stood in Cinderella’s glass slippers … It’s been a ball.”

A new production of Cinderella is to open on Broadway in 2023. The Gillian Lynne theatre will next present a production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which has been on a UK tour.

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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